March 2, 2017 / 10:37 AM / 7 months ago

Starc remains Australia's biggest weapon, says Marsh

Cricket - India v Australia - First Test cricket match - Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune, India - 24/02/17. Australia's Mitchell Starc celebrates the wicket of India's captain Virat Kohli. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Fast bowler Mitchell Starc remains Australia’s most potent weapon with the ball despite their spinners stealing the show in the series opener against India, team mate Mitchell Marsh said on Thursday.

On the turning track in Pune, left-arm spinner Steve O‘Keefe bagged 12 wickets while slow-bowling partner Nathan Lyon took five as the touring side thumped India by 333 runs inside three days in the first match of the four-test series.

Nature of the pitch meant left-armer Starc bowled only 11 overs in the first test but his workload could increase significantly at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium which hosts the second test from Saturday.

”He’s one of the best bowlers in the world, if not the best bowler in the world,“ all-rounder Marsh told reporters on Thursday. ”He’s certainly the best reverse swing bowler in the world.

”In these conditions, whilst all the talk has been about the spinners he’s still our biggest weapon, I think.

“It’s great if he’s in the Indians’ heads, hopefully he can take a few wickets for us.”

The Bengaluru track is not expected to provide as much turn as Pune for the slow bowlers and the pacemen’s ability to reverse swing the old ball could prove crucial.

Marsh said Australia is well equipped in that department with Starc and Josh Hazlewood in their side.

”In Pune the wicket itself did a lot of work for us, it’s not necessarily the square here,“ Marsh said. ”These balls scuff up well early on. Reverse swing will be huge for us.

“If we can get it going we’ve got two of the best reverse swing bowlers in the world. They will still be huge weapons for us.”

On the slow and dry tracks in Asia, where Australia had lost their last nine tests before their Pune heroics, defence was a key aspect of batting, according to Marsh.

”It’s a big part of playing well over here, and it’s something all our batsmen have worked on,“ the 25-year-old said. ”Against a turning ball, if you can back your defence then attacking the ball that’s there will be much better.

“In these conditions you’ve got to earn the right to attack and that’s by having a solid defence. That’s what I’ve been working on.”

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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